Family-focused marketing agency Kids Industries (Ki) has launched a new report today exploring the concept of diversity and inclusion amongst children and their parents – and what this looks like in the toys and games that they engage with.
The survey – carried out across 2,001 parents of children (aged 5-15) in the UK and USA – paints a picture of rising concerns among parents over screen time, yet also acknowledges how they appreciate the benefits of digital play. There is however a desire from parents for more inclusive toy and gaming attributes.
When it comes to the toys their children play with, parents are looking for skills support the most
What parents notice: Parents would like more opportunities to play as a family (38 per cent) and 35 per cent would like to see toys that focus on imagination. Another important observation was that parents are looking for toys made from materials that are better for the planet (33 per cent).
Key issue: Parents are busy people and 21 per cent say that they struggle to always find the time to play, watch, or do things with their child that they enjoy (rising to 27 per cent amongst US parents; 16 per cent in the UK). With that in mind, parents are keen to support their children’s skills development and 40 percent would like to see more toys that help with traditional education, such as maths, and the same number would like more toys that help with ‘soft’ education such as problem solving.
Moving forwards: In terms of representation, parents would like to see no differentiation between “girl” and “boy” toys (22 per cent) and an increase in positive role models (37 per cent).
More ethnically diverse toys were a desire for 22 per cent and 17 per cent wanted to see better disability representation. Better LGBTQ+ representation sat at nine per cent.
Parents want to be involved in children’s video games
What parents notice: 46 per cent of all parents feel that screen-based play is good for their children’s development (42 per cent of UK parents versus 49 per cent of US parents). 57 per cent of parents also recognise that digital play is relaxing for their child and 56 per cent say that it puts them in a good mood (rising to 62 per cent amongst US parents – UK sits at 51 per cent). They also feel that digital play expands the things their children are able to see and do (56 per cent). 52 per cent felt that it enables their children to be more creative or imaginative also.
Key issue: Over four out of five parents (84 per cent) feel that their children spend too much time in front of screens – consistent across all ages (5-7 – 83 per cent; 8-11 – 85 per cent; 12-15 – 84 per cent). They’re also concerned that screen-based play leads to less socialisation (42 per cent) and feel that it limits the things their children can see or do (17 per cent).
Moving forwards: Parents would like more opportunities to play as a family (37 per cent – 39 per cent in the US and 35 per cent in the UK) and 31 per cent are keen to see new and innovative ways to play and interact.
Again, there’s a strong desire among parents for more positive role models in the games their children play (41 per cent) along with support for games that provide soft’ education such as problem solving (37 per cent) and traditional education such as maths skills (31 per cent).
Having games that include better disability representation is of interest to 18 per cent of parents and 11 per cent would like to see better LGBTQ+ representation.
Gary Pope, CEO and Co-Founder at Kids Industries and Children’s Commissioner for Products of Change, commented: “Play underpins everything that our children will become – it is as Maria Montessori said: ‘The work of the child.’
“Our research indicates that 67 per cent of parents feel their children’s schools are good or excellent when it comes to their diversity and inclusion policies and approaches which shows there is much more work to be done. We must listen to children and parent voices and ensure their needs and wants are reflected in the toys and games that they consume.
“Nothing is more important than protecting and promoting a child’s right to play and making those play experiences the very best that they can be is essential and something that the industry needs to give serious consideration.”